Saturday, March 23, 2013

... tv5: so, did Kristel Tejada kill herself over U.P.'s "oppressive" tution fee system? ... (life coach, counselor, psychotherapist, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, quezon city, manila, philippines)

some people have now glorified Kristel Tejada to be a hero of sorts, a poster girl for all young people who want to pursue an education but cannot afford it.  however, to think that Kristel Tejada committed suicide simply because she couldn't pay her tuition is a silly thought.  It is an erroneous thought categorized under the 'Fallacy of a Single Cause.'   Suicide is a complex issue and cannot be explained by a simple cause-and-effect type of reasoning.  The truth is, we don't really know why Kristel committed suicide, and we can only make assumptions on why she did it and what triggered her to do so.  

it was for this reason that jc gotinga of tv5's reaksyon daily visited me- to ask me about Kristel.   

as a psychiatrist, the first question on my mind was whether Kristel was suffering from major (clinical) depression because people with major depression carry an inherently high risk for suicide.  

if she did have major depression, was the depression present even BEFORE the tuition fee problem?  if so, any problematic situation (not necessarily the tuition fee problem) would have aggravated or worsened her already-existent depression, leading her to commit suicide.  

Or did the tuition fee problem TRIGGER the onset of a major depression?  we have to understand though that a "trigger" is NOT the same as a "cause."  a trigger may simply be the last straw, of ALL the previously-accumulated straw, that finally breaks the camel's back.  in other words, Kristel's tuition fee problem was probably just the very tip of a massive iceberg of other burdensome problems she was experiencing (e.g., family problems, parental pressure; personal insecurities, etc.).  

There are a million questions needed to be asked in order to understand Kristel's suicide.  In fact, a whole dissertation could be made on Kristel's case for which unfortunately, I don't have time to do.   

I have no intention of judging Kristel but I also want to be fair.  The only good outcome of Kristel's suicide is that her death was "used" by student groups to raise awareness about the plight of financially-challenged kids deprived of an education.  However, we have to stop glamorizing Kristel's suicide as a battlecry to reduce tuition fees.  We have to see suicide for what it really is: Suicide is a PERMANENT ESCAPE from a TEMPORARY PROBLEM. 

If the only reason Kristel killed herself was SIMPLY BECAUSE she couldn't pay her tuition, then her suicide is a shameful cop-out.  such a suicide is a lowly act, an act of defeat, considering that there are millions of young kids out there who also cannot afford an education but who do not kill themselves.  instead, these kids bravely suck up the challenges of life and strive hard to work their way to college.  these kids are the true heroes, because they strive hard to overcome the hurdles that come their way.

and so, this brings me back to the original question- did Kristel Tejada kill herself over U.P.'s "oppressive" tuition fee system?  I would categorically have to say "no, she did not."  Kristel's suicide needs to be understood from the whole broad context of her complicated life, and not just from the simplistic and superficial angle of tuition fees.   


  1. my point of view too !suicide and the tuition issues are different issues. if anything parents like me should have been killing themselves due tuition issues all these years. I sent 5 kids to school and 3 of them to higher studies. I have a lawyer son, a daughter who is a doctor and another son graduated from veterinary school. Their father and I were merely employees.

  2. "I have no intention of judging Kristel but I also want to be fair. The good outcome of Kristel's suicide is that it raised awareness about the plight of financially-challenged kids deprived of an education." I opposed to this statement!!! So what if people who are incapable to take such action in this matter had never learn. Do we need again a Kristel Tejada to "DIE".

  3. Dr. Dellosa, with all due respect, kindly excuse me for saying this. Someone who had committed suicide or has/had thoughts of doing so, in my opinion, are not merely escaping the problem. I believe they are very much overwhelmed by their perception of the situation, which magnanimity has been incomprehensible for them. Thus, they are unable to think clearly to the point that they would rather die than experience a pain so great, so incomprehensible, it's bigger than life. Suicide is not, for me, a matter of who's stronger or who's weaker. Therefore, I think it is unfair to say that these people have just wanted to escape and are not as brave as the others. One's struggle is always different from another. Even if two students have the same problem (such as being unable to pay one's tuition fee) one's emotional state and cognitive processing is always different from another. I apologize but I believe this post of yours is rather... offensive. I hope you will ponder on these statements. Thank you.